Bishop says voting pad mistake led him to accidentally reject Church sexuality report
A Church of England bishop has admitted a voting error led him to reject a controversial report on sexuality.
Yesterday the General Synod, the Church of England’s democratic governing body, voted down a report from Bishops which had broadly rejected the case to relax the Church’s anti-LGB policies after three years of “conversations” on the issue.
In a victory hailed by LGBT Christian campaigners, the House of Clergy voted against the proposals by 93-100 despite them passing in the House of Bishops by a vote of 43-1.
The lone bishop voting against the proposal had led to speculation about who broke with unanimity among the church leadership, but now the Bishop of Coventry Christopher Cocksworth has admitted casting the vote by accident.
The bishop admitted he hit the wrong button on the electronic voting pads being used, adding: “Much to my embarrassment, I have managed to give the impression that there was not complete agreement in the House of Bishops that the Report provided us with the best way forward.
“Due to a moment of distraction and some confusion over the voting process, I pressed the wrong button on my handset, thus registering a vote against taking note rather than a vote for taking note of the Report!
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“I have apologised to my colleagues in the House of Bishops and to the Archbishops for my mistake.”
The Bishop’s vote is ironic, given he chaired the Faith and Order Commission when it ruled out blessings for same-sex unions.
He added he is “disappointed” that the report had been rejected by clergy, adding: “I believed that the Report was – as the Archbishop of Canterbury described it in his very good speech – a valuable ‘roadmap’ by which the Bishops could help the Church to attend to its multiple responsibilities in these matters.
“The work of the House of Bishops will continue as we seek to fulfil our particular doctrinal and pastoral responsibilities for the well-being of the Church and its mission, and I look forward to taking a full part in that process. ”
LGBT Christians welcomed the rejection of the report, which means the Bishops will have to rethink proposals on the issue.
Singer and LGBT campaigner Vicky Beeching, who had been among those calling for reform, tweeted: “A happy day for all those wanting greater LGBT+ inclusion in the Church of England.
“What happens next? The Bishops will have to create a new Report. Hopefully, one that’s more LGBT-inclusive in tone and practice.”
“These are the small, incremental steps by which change comes to the Chuch of England. Nothing radical happens overnight. Takes patience.”